Detail: An Equitable, Participatory Approach to mHealth App Development for African American and Hispanic Adults

◆ Cynthia Baur, University of Maryland, School of Public Health, Center for Health Literacy, Dept. of Behavioral and Community Health
◆ Devlon N. Jackson, University of Maryland, School of Public Health, Center for Health Literacy, Dept. of Behavioral and Community Health
◆ Neil Sehgal, University of Maryland, School of Public Health, Dept. of Health Policy and Management
◆ Madeline Diep, Fraunhofer USA CESE

Research reveals that Hispanic and African American adults are more likely than their white counterparts to use smartphones to access health information. With an increased uptake in mHealth use among African Americans and Hispanics, it is imperative that public health communication practitioners and researchers, along with app developers, design apps that are tailored to the health information needs of these populations and build health literacy. There is limited research on designing mHealth apps to improve health literacy in these health disparity populations. Participatory research methods are used in several disciplines and in mHealth development, these methods have been shown to have positive effects when intended users are part of app development and testing process. This panel presents an iterative mHealth app design approach with African American and Hispanic members to design HealthyMe/MiSalud, a multi-function health information seeking app in English and Spanish. The app includes a recommender system to enhance personalization based on health history, goals, and cultural factors. Three presentations will discuss: 1) the process that actively engaged community members in app design to include their input; 2) how the use of Amazon Mechanical Turk (mTurk) data was applied to seed the app recommender system and minimize algorithm bias; and 3) how the community member input and mTurk data were applied to app features, functions, and look and feel. Our process shows that with intentionality it is possible to employ techniques from both industry and academia (public health communication practitioners and scientists) to create equity-focused mHealth solutions.